Mrs Youcantbeserious is a remarkable woman. Those of you blessed to know her will confirm that we could write a column every week for a whole year, talking about nothing else but her many fine qualities and talents.
This week I would like to highlight one such talent and just write about my wife’s nose. I have often said to her that she should have been a dog … but I wouldn’t like to say that here; so I’ll just say instead that she could get a job as a ‘sniffer’ at Dublin airport. No illegal drugs would get past her, no matter how well concealed. No bundle of used banknotes, counterfeit cigarettes, or fake designer clothes would ever darken our country again.
Years ago when a lot of my friends smoked and I might give somebody a lift home from a meeting or match; the first ceist fired at me before I got a welcome home kiss would be; ‘who did you have in the car – I can smell cigarettes.’ But Lord look down on me if any passenger was a woman wearing perfume. The trick for me was, that after I said my prayers and before I rolled into bed, I had to get the name in before I was asked! We are talking here, Lads, about the greatest nose of all time.
Some would claim that Mrs Youcantbeserious has a proneness for ‘turning up her nose’ when she doesn’t like someone or something. As we are dealing only with facts here, I have to say that I have never seen a curl on her pretty little nose.
All of the above got me to thinking as to how important is the nose for all of us – and it barely ever gets a mention. It’s all about the heart, the brain, the mouth, the muscles, the hair – and the poor little nose; one of the most useful parts of our body, hardly ever features in discussion. In fact, it gets a lot of bad press with regard to starting arguments; ‘he poked his nose into what was none of his business!’
I can think of few things worse than losing your sense of smell – as did happen to many people as a result of Covid.
The aroma of cooking, or freshly baked bread can transport you thousands of miles and years back in time. And yes, as well as invoking pleasant memories, can cause you to contract with past grief. Smells can evoke all manner of memories. Coming back briefly … and before then moving quickly on; that aforementioned perfume will always remind you of the first person (‘person’ is a good word here, Lads) you met wearing it. Again, isn’t it strange how little attention the nose gets in comparison to the eyes and ears? Even in the animal world, scent can play a bigger part in the art of survival than either sight or sound.
Anytime I come across the smell of chalk, I am immediately transported to my first day in schools, when Mrs McCormack gave me a stick of white chalk and a tuppeny jotter. That strong smell of chalk was an ever part of my first teacher. The burning of incense during funerals or benediction always triggers memories of my Sunday morning serving mass in Killulagh church.
As a coffee addict, there is no more inviting aroma for me than that of freshly brewing coffee. We don’t burn turf anymore, but I have fond memories of that smoky smell whenever I arrived home from abroad in the long ago. There is a strong connection between smell and mood and so, I tell you, I certainly value my nose …
I remember hearing somebody say on the radio that significant improvement can be accomplished with Alzheimer patients through regular and mindful exposure to smells. Familiar smells may enhance cognition or delay decline. The memories that are regained through scent vastly surpass the other senses. Music is of course the other remarkable miracle worker with people who have lost their memory.
Did you know that there is an awful ammonia-like smell off used bank notes stored in an airtight container? It is pure rotten … but I loved it! When I owned the pub in Spain, we had a floor safe where the rolls of notes were dropped periodically. When I lifted the lid after a couple of days this atrocious smell would nearly knock you out. Strangely, this awful smell didn’t sit well with Mrs Youcantbeserious. I always claimed that the sweetest smell, other than good silage, was what escaped from this enclosed hole in the ground. She hated both smells equally, but I would still chance my luck following her to bed reeking of those two smells, than one faint, teeny weenie whiff of a strange perfume!
Some husbands are living proof that a wife can take a joke.